The Gujarat High Court said on Tuesday that there was a lack of "proper team work and coordination" at Ahmedabad Civil Hospital, where around 400 COVID-19 patients have died so far.
A division bench of Justices JB Pardiwala and IJ Vora said that "it is the responsibility of the Health Minister to keep a close vigil over the administration and functioning of the hospital".
The observation on Tuesday came after the court had said on Saturday that the condition of Ahmedabad Civil Hospital was "pathetic, distressing and painful," and "as good as dungeon".
The court softened its stand after the government on Monday filed an urgent application, seeking clarification about certain observations made in the Saturday order.
The scenario since the letters relating to the first week of May 2020 has "totally changed," the government said in its application, referring to anonymous letters quoted by the court.
The two judges said they'd make a surprise visit to the hospital to "put an end to all the controversies with regard to the functioning of the civil hospital at Ahmedabad".
"The state government boasts that the Civil Hospital at Ahmedabad is the biggest hospital in Asia, but, it should now strive very very hard to make the same as one of the best hospitals in Asia," the high court said.
"We once again reiterate that what has been lacking is proper team work and coordination. If there is proper team work with proper coordination, then we are sure, conditions will definitely improve in the Civil Hospital," it said.
"It is the responsibility of the Health Minister to keep a close vigil over the administration and functioning of the Civil Hospital. We have been assured that the State Government will do its best to still improve the conditions at the Civil Hospital," the court said.
The Gujarat government had said in its application that the court's earlier observations, "founded on an anonymous letter and report of some person claiming to be a medical officer and resident doctor, apart from seriously demoralising the COVID19 task force, has given rise to a lot of fear and anxiety in the patients, who are declining to get admitted in the civil hospital."
The court said that anonymous letter of the resident doctor "contains very important elements," and directed an independent committee to look into its various aspects.
The anonymous letter had highlighted "mismanagement" and "irregularities", saying it could turn doctors such as him into "super spreaders" of coronavirus and put the lives of non-COVID patients at risk.
The government said in the application that Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, who also holds the health portfolio, visited the hospital five times, and Principal Secretary Jayanti Ravi visited 20 times in two months after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The court had asked if the minister and the senior health department officer had paid a visit to the hospital.
On the rising death count at the hospital, the government said that the total death count between March and May 2020 at the hospital due to COVID-19 and other disease was 1,757, which was less than 2,408 during the same period in 2019.
The rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Gujarat has been "substantially slow" and number of deaths too was low compared to countries such as Italy and France, which have similar size of population and much superior medical facilities, the government said in the application.
In its order on Tuesday, the court observed, "We are glad to take note of some positive steps taken by the state government...However, we would still like to delve deep into the materials placed on record by the state government with regard to the conditions prevailing at the Civil Hospital."
"It is too early for this Court to give any final certificate to the State Government as regards the Civil Hospital at Ahmedabad. There are many problems which the State Government needs to look into closely and try to resolve the same at the earliest in the larger interest of the people of Gujarat, more particularly, the city of Ahmedabad," it said.
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